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Son wears my bra and pants.

I HAVE recently found some of my underwear in my 12-year-old son's bed. I got a real shock and just sat looking at it for a long time.

All kinds of thoughts were racing through my head: whether I should mention it to him and if I did, what I should say to him.

Well, I decided to take the bull by the horns. I chose a moment when we were in a good mood and I asked him about it. He confessed that he's been dressing up in my bra and panties from time to time, ever since he was about 10.

I didn't want to make a big fuss and risk ruining our relationship. I want him to be able to feel he can come to me with anything in the future.

I'm a woman of the world but I'm not sure how to handle this one. Is it part of starting puberty early? Is his behaviour normal? What do I do next? I haven't mentioned it to his dad - I don't think he'd understand. I'm so confused.

YOU'RE a lovely, caring mum and quite right not to make a fuss. I think, probably for now, you're best not to mention it to your husband if you think he'd rant and rave, as some men might.

Your son's behaviour is really a normal part of growing up. It's part of his awakening sexual awareness as he approaches puberty.

He probably dressed up in your underwear as an experiment. He's likely to be bewildered by the thought of girls and may have felt he'd get close and understand more about them if he put on your bra and panties.

It's not uncommon at all for children to keep an item of their mum's clothing in their room - a scarf, something silky.

The texture is soft and reminds them of their mum's love and the perfume can make mum feel near if she's not.

I wouldn't say anything to upset him but, if you've not done so already, do have a chat about the facts of life. That way he'll start to feel more comfortable about his body and his sexuality.

I can't give him kids

I'M in love with a wonderful man who's in his forties and he's asked me to marry him.

I'm dying to say yes, but I feel I'll have to admit to my guilty secret first. The problem is I'm in my fifties and I feel one day my man will regret not having children.

Everyone is entitled to have a child and I worry he'll eventually go off with a younger woman. He's young for his age and I'm taken for a much younger woman, but even though he shows me he wants me, won't he change his mind one day?

EVERYTHING in life carries a risk, especially where relationships are concerned. But don't make the mistake of letting your unfounded anxieties take over.

Otherwise there'll be a self- fulfilling prophecy and you'll make yourself and your partner miserable.

There's no easy way round this. You're right - morally you can't deprive your man of a family if he wants one. And just think what would happen to your relationship if he found out he'd been deceived.

For all you know he may be past wanting children. It may not bother him either way. But you'll never know till you ask.

I KEEP telling my boyfriend that there's a difference between safe sex and contraception. He doesn't seem to be able to see the difference.

He says it's good enough for me to be on the Pill, but I say men have to wear a condom as well to avoid sexually-transmitted diseases. There are two separate things here, aren't there?

SAFE sex (wearing a condom) isn't a foolproof way of avoiding pregnancy. Conversely, contraception only stops babies, it doesn't prevent AIDS or STDs.

So to be safe against both pregnancy and disease you should use a contraceptive (the pill, IUD, cap) PLUS a condom every time. So, yes, you're right.

The notion of "safe sex" was first promoted in the 1980s as a response to the spread of AIDS. But practising safe sex will help protect you against STDs in general, not just AIDS.

Safe sex is largely a matter of common-sense combined with an awareness of the risks involved in different kinds of sexual activity. All these are high-risk sexual activities:

Any sexual act that draws blood whether intentionally or accidentally.

Anal intercourse without a condom.

Vaginal intercourse without a condom.

Putting fingers into the anus.

Sharing penetrating sex aids.

Slave to lazy lad

MY 17-year-old son has become very selfish. When he was younger he was so willing and helpful. He was always cheerful and jokey, in fact a pleasure to be with. My lovely son has become someone I don't recognise any more.

Now he'll only do things for his friends, he'll never help me. I run about after him, clean his room, wash his clothes and lend him money, but I get no thanks.

The other day he kept me waiting in the rain while he played snooker with his mates.

If I say anything, he says I'm always moaning. Where have I gone wrong?

YOU haven't gone wrong except to spoil your son rotten and you've made a rod for your own back. He's taking everything and giving nothing. He's never been taught that life's a contract - you do things for him and in return he does things for you.

But it's too late now to make new rules and expect him to co-operate. You could try jolting him into the real world. You could withdraw your labour and let him fend for himself. You could also insist he moves out until he starts behaving reasonably.

You don't need to moan, just tell him calmly that you'll no longer be a drudge for him.

Regular sex is a real pain

I'M 19 and I've started to have regular sex. Ever since then I've been prone to cystitis symptoms, especially if the sex is energetic, but no treatment seems to work.

All the tests I've had done have proved negative and my doctor seems to think that I have an irritable bladder.

I've heard of honeymoon cystitis - could I have that? I know I'm a very anxious person and wonder if nerves could be causing the problem. As no treatment brings relief, what can I do to help myself?

HONEYMOON cystitis, as the name suggests, is usually a one-off thing. Yes, anxiety can make bladder problems worse. An anxious brain will send red-alert messages to the bladder muscle, which becomes sensitive to small amounts of urine and quite twitchy to empty.

So bringing anxiety under control, not with tranquillisers but with deep muscle and mental relaxation exercises, can help. I'm going to send you my leaflet on relaxation so that you can try to handle the stress in your life. As it happens, I also have a leaflet on Irritable Bladder Syndrome which might give you some useful tips. But your doctor might be able to do a little more for you.

There are drugs which "tranquillise' the bladder and stop it being so irritable. Why don't you chat to him and perhaps try one? Start drinking cranberry juice each morning as well.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 28, 1998
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